Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Thursday, June 30, 2005

SENATE APPROVES CONSERVATION AND WATER PROJECTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate approved the annual appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior and other related agencies today on a vote of 94-0.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Subcommittee that crafted bill, praised its passage, “This year’s bill recognizes a variety of projects that help us conserve our environment and resources while allowing us to wisely use the resources we have. I’m also pleased that this fiscally responsible bill holds the line on spending. Current budget deficits plus our increased needs for homeland security and the war on terror mean the rest of the government has to tighten its belt.”

For detailed information on each project listed below, please visit Craig’s website:

  • Idaho’s Strategic Plan for Managing Noxious Weeds $1 million
  • Northern Rocky Mountain/Central Idaho Wolf Recovery $1.5 million
  • Idaho Sage Grouse Management Plan $500,000
  • BSU research on shallow subsurface fluid flow $500,000
  • St. Joe Basin/Mica Creek forest conservation $2 million
  • U of I Collaborative Working Forests $500,000
  • Fire Research and Management Exchange System $350,000
  • Peregrine Fund California Condor Recovery $400,000
  • Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness conservation $1 million
  • Upper/South Fork Snake River conservation $3 million
  • Singleton-Kilgore forest conservation $650,000
  • Spokane River Bi-State phosphorus study $250,000
  • City of Castleford Water Infrastructure Improvements $400,000
  • Valley County South Lake Wastewater Collection and Treatment Facility $600,000
  • Rathdrum Prairie/Spokane Valley Aquifer Study $300,000
  • Auger Falls Wastewater Treatment Project $500,000
The bill will now go to a joint conference committee to iron out differences between the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the bill.

For more information on each project, please visit Senator Craig’s website and for information on the appropriations process, please read Senator Craig’s Appropriations Process Issue Brief.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

INL Primed to Power Up Space Science

by the Idaho Congressional Delegation

These are busy times on Capitol Hill as Congress begins work in earnest on the nation's budget for next year. And with renewed commitment from both the executive and legislative branches to hold the line on spending, only the most meritorious programs are likely to find broad support. One such program, we’re pleased to report, that is showing that wide backing is the proposed consolidation of a key national priority nuclear science mission in Idaho.

The mission involves the nuclear operations associated with production of radioisotope power systems - what some have called space batteries. Currently, the Department of Energy's only means of producing these systems requires the participation of sites all across the country in facilities retrofitted for this purpose. This is hardly the most efficient means of getting the job done. To be more cost-responsible, productive and secure, the Department is looking to consolidate the nuclear aspects of its space battery production at a single site - Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

These "batteries" have been used for decades to provide heat and electrical energy for exploratory spacecraft in the cold, dark recesses of space - beyond where solar energy and chemical systems can operate effectively. They also fulfill key needs in safeguarding our national security.

The consolidation proposal makes sense. INL has the largest, most capable test reactor in the nation. It's been deeply involved in nuclear science and engineering since day one - way back in 1949. And no other DOE site in the nation has a more advanced security infrastructure to safeguard its operations.

We’re always proud to talk with our fellow lawmakers about the remarkable achievements researchers and technicians at INL have made over the years. Those achievements include production of the first usable amount of electricity from nuclear power, powering of an entire American city with nuclear-generated electricity for the first time, development of propulsion systems for the nuclear Navy, writing of safety and training codes for reactors across the globe, and the collaborative development of cancer treatment planning software and related tools. And just last fall, the INL was proud to announce a breakthrough in the production of hydrogen through nuclear-enabled high temperature electrolysis.

Congress and this administration know well of INL’s record of achievement, and the external recognition it has received for its safety performance. They know Idaho is the place where the federal government has received and will continue to receive maximum return on its investment. That's why both branches have aligned in support of radioisotope power system consolidation in our state. In fact, the work has already been singled out for funding with House approval of $8.5 million in the FY-2006 Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

We know INL scientists and engineers can leverage Idaho's unique world-class facilities to successfully fulfill this proposed new national priority space battery mission. Nuclear science and engineering excellence, and a culture of worker, public and environmental safety will assure that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

SENATE CLEARS BIPARTISAN ENERGY BILL

Craig hails long-awaited passage a crucial step forward

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig praised today’s approval of the Energy Bill by a strong, bipartisan majority of the Senate.

“This has been a long, hard, but rewarding trek” Craig said. “Today’s bill constructs a clear path toward greater energy independence through expanded production, new technologies, and conservation. We are one step closer to getting American consumers the much-needed relief from high energy prices.”

A key provision, long advocated by Craig, to reform the nation’s hydroelectric licensing laws, gained the support of Senators Gordon Smith, R-Ore., Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Ben Nelson, D-Neb., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., during Committee consideration. The language will: (1) require more federal resource agency accountability in the hydropower licensing process, and (2) streamline the complex and lengthy relicensing process for hydropower facilities, a major source of electricity generation in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.

In addition, the bill authorizes a Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) – a nuclear power reactor to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory, to serve as a national test bed for advanced reactor technologies and provide co-generation of hydrogen by nuclear energy.

The bill, which cleared the Senate by a vote of 85-12, also contains unprecedented conservation and efficiency measures, reduces peak electric demand by 2020 by 50,000 MW, and reduces U.S. oil consumption by 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2015. Furthermore, the legislation modernizes and expands the nation’s electricity grid, and encourages the deployment of clean coal technologies and hydrogen technologies aimed at moving America away from its dependence on foreign oil.

The bill will now be reviewed by a conference committee convened to iron out differences between the Senate and House bills. Craig, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pledged continued advocacy for the bill during conference.

More information is available at http://craig.senate.gov/i_energy.htm.

Monday, June 27, 2005

CRAIG AFFIRMS SAFETY OF U.S. BEEF

Safeguard measures in place are effective

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Senator Larry Craig responded to news that the United States Department of Agriculture prevented a BSE-infected cow from entering the U.S. food and feed supply.

Craig stated, "Today's confirmation should not in any way undermine the confidence of consumers or our trading partners in U.S. beef. The safeguards in place successfully quarantined this animal, which never threatened our food and feed supply. Since the last U.S. case in 2003, the beef industry, Congress, and the Administration have committed large resources toward strengthening the surveillance of our herds and bolstering the process used to keep beef safe. Americans should enjoy their weekend by grilling with their families – I know I will."

For more detailed information on this case, please visit www.usda.gov. Information on what Senator Craig is doing for Idaho agriculture can be found in his Ag Action Plan Issue Brief.

Friday, June 24, 2005

CRAIG COSPONSORS SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM BILL

Legislation includes personal retirement accounts, prohibits spending surplus

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig became an original cosponsor today of legislation that will prohibit the federal government from spending the Social Security surplus revenues for other purposes and establish limited personal retirement accounts within the Social Security benefit.

Introduced today, the legislation would ensure that revenues collected for Social Security are always available for future Social Security benefits. The bill would do this by walling off surplus revenues in personal retirement accounts (PRAs) legally owned by workers themselves. This would prevent the counting of Social Security revenues in ways that mask the true size of federal budget deficits.

These personal accounts would be completely voluntary for today’s workers younger than age 55 and could be invested only in safe U.S. government bonds. These surplus funds have always been invested in similar bonds, but those bonds have been legally owned by the Social Security system, which is part of the government, and not owned by individuals.

“While this is not a comprehensive solution to the problems facing Social Security right now, it is a decisive step in the right direction,” Craig said. “I think all the cosponsors recognize that this is a part – not all – of the solution. All Americans deserve to have a piece of President Bush’s ownership society. Ever since Social Security was created in the 1930s, the government has promised to pay benefits, but the government continues to own all the dollars deposited in the Social Security trust funds. With this bill, individual workers and beneficiaries would begin to have legal ownership of their own accounts, instead of the government. Unlike some of the failed proposals in past Congresses, this is a genuine lockbox.”

Craig continued, “This bill sends a very clear message: you can either support saving Social Security surpluses for future Social Security beneficiaries, or you can support the status quo. I know most Senators believe the status quo is unacceptable. I continue to support broader personal account reforms and want to see Congress address comprehensive reforms like those outlined by the President and bipartisan experts. The bill we introduce today is a good down payment on that process.”
Senator Craig is the former chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which actively investigated the Social Security program and other issues important to America’s seniors. He currently serves as chairman of the White House Commission on Aging’s Economic Security Subcommittee, which also deals with Social Security issues.

SENATE SUPPORTS SALMON, SMALL BUSINESS, AND SECOND AMENDMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho salmon, small businesses, downwinders, and the Second Amendment all received support today from the Senate Appropriations Committee upon its approval of the Fiscal Year 2006 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Committee that wrote the bill, secured support for several projects important to Idaho. After Committee approval, he stated, “Serving on the Appropriations Committee provides a unique opportunity to direct federal spending and the priorities of federal agencies. Today’s mark-up highlights each of these roles. This bill provides support for a number of priority projects for Idaho, and also directs federal agencies in the enforcement of federal firearm laws.”

Projects include:

  • Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund ($4.5 million for Idaho) – Salmon recovery projects in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. This is the second year that Idaho has been included in the program.
  • Idaho State University Boise Center Aerospace Laboratory ($500,000) – Geospatial research for water resource organizations in Idaho to utilize remote sensing and geospatial technologies for more efficient use of water.
  • Radiation Exposure Compensation Act reform – Language directing the Department of Justice to report to Congress on what reforms are needed, what it can do administratively, and what needs to be enacted by Congress, in response to the recent, detailed study by the National Academy of Sciences. More information on what Senator Craig is doing on RECA reform is available on here.
  • College of Southern Idaho Pro-Tech Program –Training for employees of companies that are new to the area. It is an ongoing program, and the bill urges the Small Business Administration to continue its support.
  • Lewis-Clark State College Virtual Incubator – Small business incubator that focuses on helping those interested in e-commerce. It is also an ongoing program, and the bill urges the Small Business Administration to continue its support.
Detailed information on each project is available on Senator Craig’s website.

Several legislative provisions were retained from the fiscal year 2005 bill that address concerns over Second Amendment rights. They include language to prevent a national gun owner registry; preserve the definition of rare and historical firearms; retain the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms as the primary enforcement agency for federal firearm laws; prevent the release of data sensitive to criminal investigations; halt excessive paperwork requirements for federal firearm dealers; maintain licenses for low-volume firearm dealers; and protect consumers from fees and taxes associated with background checks.

The Committee also approved the Fiscal Year 2005 Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Please reference Senator Craig’s release from Tuesday, June 21, 2005, Ag Research Sees Increased Support, for a complete list of projects included in that bill.

The bills approved today by the Appropriations Committee will now go to the full Senate for consideration.

Can’t Un-ring That Bell

by Senator Larry Craig

A day or two ago, I heard someone use a phrase that I hadn’t heard in quite a while. The phrase was “You can’t un-ring that bell.” Its meaning is simple and undeniable; there are some actions that, once committed, can’t be taken back.

When our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, they well understood that they were ringing a very large bell, loud and clear. Once pen was put to paper, they realized, King George III and the British government would have a neat, tidy list of the American Revolution’s key leaders and fomenters. Each and every one could be arrested and tried for committing treason against the Crown. Still, they signed.

Now, as our Independence Day approaches, I am reminded that acts very similar to those our Founding Fathers took are taking place today, nearly everywhere we look. We are living in truly historic times. If this is not apparent now, I believe it will be quite clear down the road, when we have the benefit of hindsight.

Just days ago, after weeks and months of peaceful demonstrations that came to be known as the Cedar Revolution, the people of Lebanon concluded their first meaningful parliamentary elections in decades. Several months ago, on January 30, despite death threats from terrorist thugs, Iraq held its first free elections in more than 30 years. In the Ukraine, voters refused to accept the false outcome of rigged elections, and forced a second vote that truly reflected the will of Ukrainians. In October 2004, Afghanistan also held free and fair elections. In February, I noted that even Saudi Arabia voluntarily held municipal elections (as limited and imperfect as they were).

There are more countries I could mention, but I think the point is clear. The bell of freedom and democracy has been rung, and dictators across the world have taken notice. An idea has been set in motion, and it is gaining momentum. It is the idea that each man, woman and child is born with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Millions of people across the world have absorbed this idea and have begun to demand and exercise these rights for themselves.

With all that has been accomplished, there is still much more to do. Democratic governments and institutions in Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and other places are only precariously balanced. These nations are just taking their first steps toward democratic societies, and the paths are unmarked. Each path will be different. However, the beauty of self-determination is just that – the ability for a nation to blaze its own trail, to decide for itself the best way to meet its needs. The journey will be difficult, but few things worth achieving are ever easy.

These new democracies today are truly inspiring and reaffirming. In a way, these peaceful revolutions across the world brought us closer to the great men who founded the United States of America. More than 200 years after the United States was created in an act of conscientious defiance of oppression, we are now privileged to witness the same phenomenon again, from a different point of view. True to our heritage and our beliefs, Americans can be proud of the role we have played in unleashing the light of democracy in what were some very dark places.

This year, as you celebrate Independence Day, I encourage you to take a look at the world around us and appreciate the blessings secured by our forefathers. Many millions of people are discovering for the first time the freedom Americans have enjoyed for generations, even centuries. What we have requires struggle and suffering to attain and maintain. Now, Americans have come full-circle, sacrificing with, and encouraging, those who seek the same goal of the American Revolution: to ring the bell of freedom and liberty. This July 4th, let freedom ring.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

AG RESEARCH SEES INCREASED SUPPORT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A number of agriculture-related projects for Idaho were approved today by a Senate subcommittee. The Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, and Related Agencies passed its fiscal year 2006 bill.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, who serves on the Subcommittee, announced the support for several projects important to Idaho. He stated, “This bill is vital to our farmers to help them develop better crops and conserve and manage the land under their care. As consumers, Idahoans and all Americans benefit from improved food at the store and a healthier economy. Overall, this bill represents fiscally-responsible support for agriculture and our rural communities.”

While start-up projects are rare in this bill, the following new Idaho projects are included:

Billingsley Creek Aquaculture Facility Construction ($1 million) -- Facilities for spawning, incubation, and rearing of multiple families of rainbow trout at Billingsley Creek, part of the University of Idaho’s Hagerman Fish Culture Experiment Station. This is the first installment.

CSI Irrigation Pumps and Water Conservation ($250,000) – Surface-water irrigation for the College of Southern Idaho campus.

Barley for Rural Development ($735,000) – Partnership with Montana State University to develop specialty varieties of barley for use in human diet and animal feed.

A number of existing projects received ongoing or increased support, including: Aquaculture Research Initiatives; Aquaculture Growth, Development, and Nutrition; National Small Grains Germplasm Facility; Sugar Beet Research; Brucellosis Eradication; Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research; Tri-State Predator Control; Potato Breeding Research; Cool Season Food Legume Research; Potato Variety Development; Improving Safety and Shelf-life of Idaho Commodities; Nez Perce Bio-Control Weeds Program; Idaho One-Plan; Northwest Wood Utilization Research; Grass Seed Cropping Systems; Solutions to Economic and Environmental Problems (STEEP); Jointed Goatgrass Research; Canola Research; Regional Barley Genome Mapping; Grain Legume Research; Great Basin Rangeland Project; and Yellow Star Thistle Research.

As members of their respective Appropriations Committees, Senator Craig and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson cooperate to ensure federal spending is restrained, tax dollars are appropriately spent, and that high-priority Idaho projects are included. Passage of this bill by the Subcommittee marks the first, but most important, step in the Senate’s process. The differences between the House and Senate bills will be ironed out in a conference committee. The House passed its bill on June 8, 2005.

Monday, June 20, 2005

IDAHO LEADERS DEFEND MT. HOME, GOWEN FIELD

Craig, Crapo, and Kempthorne testify before BRAC Commission in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – Idaho’s U.S. Senators and Governor testified today before the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission regarding Mountain Home Air Force Base (MHAFB) and Gowen Field.

The team took a divide-and-conquer approach to the presentation. Idaho Senator Larry Craig led off the 40-minute discussion by addressing military value, current and future growth, and the absence of environmental issues and encroachment at MHAFB. Craig stated, “Without question, our pilots benefit from ‘joint’ training. . . realigning Mountain Home to a single aircraft wing erodes critical in-place combat training synergies not found elsewhere. . . By making Mountain Home Air Force Base, and other bases around the country, a single flying unit, I fear we may be making decisions that will cost us more money in the long run to perform ‘joint’ training.
“Idaho is best situated for its current roles and missions and presents the nation with its greatest strategic opportunity to expand while maximizing joint and coalition training opportunities at the lowest and most convenient cost to U.S. taxpayers.”

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo followed, addressing community support, community sustainment, and the economic impact. “The community of Mountain Home provides an unprecedented level of support for the Mountain Home Air Force Base,” Crapo said. “We want to ensure changes to the base maintain stability for the local economy. Mountain Home Air Force Base is prepared to grow and continue to play an integral role in the future of the defense of the United States. The whole State of Idaho carries great pride in the Mountain Home Air Force Base and Gowen Field and wants to see them have a strong and prosperous future.”
Governor Kempthorne addressed the importance of the mission of Gowen Field. The U.S. House of Representatives was in session today, so Representatives Mike Simpson and C.L. “Butch” Otter were unable to attend.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Energy to Burn

by Senator Larry Craig

With each decade that passes, it seems Americans grow more and more accustomed to receiving instant results. Twenty years ago, microwave ovens were a luxury. Today, they are a standard appliance in almost every home. State lotteries have created “instant-win” scratch tickets. Digital cameras allow us to see our pictures immediately and print them in minutes. The internet brings a world of information to our fingertips in just seconds.

Still, with ever-shortening attention spans and decreasing wait times for all kinds of products and services, the average person still engages in a host of activities that are really quite wise and farsighted. We brush our teeth every day in hopes we’ll still have them 60 or 70 years later. Many watch what they eat and exercise in an effort to maintain good health well into senior citizenship. Even with a brand new car, we change the oil every 3,000 miles, because we want the car to last for 100,000 or maybe 200,000 miles.

Unfortunately, when it came to a prudent national energy policy, neither the “have it now” mentality nor our cunning survival instincts took over. It has been far too long since the United States had a national energy policy, and we are now reaping the results, at the gas pumps and on our electricity bills, of our indecision and inaction.

Fortunately, however, that is about to change. Several weeks ago, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave strong approval to the energy bill. Crafted with bipartisan input and support, the bill cleared the Committee by a vote of 21-1. Now, as I write, the energy bill is being debated on the Senate floor, and the full Senate will vote on it within a matter of days. It is possible that the bill could reach the President’s desk by the end of July, or early September at the latest.

What does the energy bill mean for Idaho? It means a lot of things. The energy bill authorizes $1.25 billion for a Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory. This reactor will serve as a test bed for advanced reactor technologies and provide co-generation of hydrogen and electricity from a nuclear reactor.

Hydrogen powered cars may be the future of automobiles, but the world still lacks the means to produce hydrogen in the quantities that will be necessary to support such a transition. The NGNP could help us pave the way.

The energy bill also provides a mandate for ethanol producers to distill 8 billion gallons of corn-based and cellulosic ethanol. Cellulosic ethanol is made from farm residues like straw, cornstalks and husks, and could provide Idaho farmers with a new market for what was, up until now, considered a farm waste product.

Another important part of the energy bill will be the provisions to streamline hydroelectric relicensing. Currently, the relicensing process for hydroelectric dams is lengthy, complicated, and lacks balance. These reforms will bring balance and accountability to the process.

Developing nuclear power and clean coal technologies and boosting ethanol production will be very helpful to diversify America’s energy consumption. But the energy bill also goes a long way toward encouraging better efficiency and conservation. It will reduce peak electricity demand by 50,000 megawatts by the year 2020, and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2015. This legislation will also modernize and expand the nation’s electricity grid, to help prevent the devastating, domino-effect blackout that struck the northeastern United States in the summer 2003.

Will the energy bill make an “immediate” dent in gas prices at the pump? It would be irresponsible to suggest that. America’s energy problems can’t be solved overnight, because they did not develop overnight. The challenges we face today came about because of years of energy policy neglect.

However, much like brushing one’s teeth keeps them healthy for our later years, putting a comprehensive national energy policy in place will help get our house in order and get the United States back in the business of producing energy.

I have been privileged to play a part in crafting this energy bill, and I believe we have a product that will be approved by the summer’s end, if not sooner. We have worked long and hard at it, and there is still much to do. However, once the energy bill is signed and put into practice, we’ll all have a big reason to smile and show off those pearly whites.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

SENATE SUPPORTS INL, IDAHO WATER PROJECTS

Includes Generation IV reactor, cleanup, research, and water projects

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Senate subcommittee approved a slew of energy and water projects for Idaho today. The Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development approved its Fiscal Year 2006 bill. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Subcommittee that wrote the bill, released a list of projects that are included in the bill (full descriptions):
  • Idaho Advanced Cogeneration Reactor ($40 million) – Continued development of the Next Generation Nuclear plant at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)
  • Advanced Test Reactor Fuel Fabrication and Long Range Operating Plan ($13.5 million) – Fuel and a long-range plan to continue to operate the Advanced Test Reactor at the INL
  • Idaho Accelerator Center at Idaho State University ($4 million)
  • National SCADA Test Bed at the INL ($5 million) – Operation of a facility to test Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, a critical component of our energy infrastructure
  • Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative ($7 million) – New funding for testing at INL of hydrogen production systems, which coincide with the development of Next Generation Nuclear Power plants
  • Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative ($85 million) – A national program with significant work performed at INL, to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable the transition to a stable, long-term, environmentally and politically acceptable advanced nuclear fuel cycle
  • Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering ($4.5 million) – Partnership with the three Idaho universities to revitalize nuclear engineering education in Idaho.
  • Environment Management at the Idaho Cleanup Project ($544 million) – A $13 million increase above the Administration’s budget proposal
  • Inland Northwest Research Alliance (INRA) ($1.5 million) - INRA is a non-profit scientific and educational organization consisting of eight Western research universities, including BSU, ISU, and U of I. Funds will be used to support collaborative work between INRA and INL on the Subsurface Science Research Institute.
  • Synchronous Wind Turbines ($500,000) -- Research on sustainable energy utilization and production focusing on distributed wind technology systems
  • Indian Creek Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration ($3.3 million) – An integral component of the City of Caldwell’s downtown redevelopment
  • Rural Idaho Water Projects ($5.5 million) – Including water projects at Emmett, Burley, Rupert, Bonners Ferry, Donnelly, Driggs, Smelterville, and the Eastern Idaho Wastewater Authority
  • Paradise Creek Ecosystem Restoration ($250,000) – Restoration and rehabilitation of certain reaches of Paradise Creek in Moscow, Idaho
  • Lower Boise River ($200,000) – Water resource management and use study of the Lower Boise River
  • Dworshak Reservoir Improvements ($2.464 million) – Improvements to boat ramps, tail water fishing access, and a handicapped-accessible lift
  • Other ongoing water projects around Idaho within the Corps of Engineers or Bureau of Reclamation: Salmon River, Challis ($611,000); Albeni Falls Dam ($1.792 million); Lucky Peak Lake ($2.567 million); Boise Area Projects ($5 million); Columbia and Snake Rivers Salmon Project ($17.5 million); Idaho Investigations ($548,000); Minidoka Area Projects ($6.318 million)

Approval by the Subcommittee is the first, and most important, step in the Senate’s approval process. The bill still needs to be approved by the full Committee and the Senate before going to a conference with the House of Representatives.

Senator Craig praised the projects, “Each of these projects represents a fiscally responsible priority for the federal government. From increasing our energy independence through expanding nuclear energy to improving our water infrastructure, Idahoans win with this bill.
“I am especially pleased with the commitment to the Generation IV Reactor at INL. The Committee recognizes the impact this technology and the reactor will have on our nation.”

SUBCOMMITTEE SUPPORTS BORDERS, SECURITY

Increases Border Patrol agents, immigration enforcement

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A U.S. Senate subcommittee approved the fiscal year 2006 Homeland Security appropriations bill today. Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the subcommittee that wrote the bill, supported the legislation to enhance homeland security efforts and immigration enforcement.

The bill continues the process of adding the 500 new Border Patrol Agents required by the Byrd-Craig Amendment to the FY 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, and provides for 1,000 more agents, for a total of 1,500 new agents, bringing total Border Patrol strength to 12,449 in FY 2006, up from 10,949 in FY 2005. It also increases the total number of beds at immigration detention centers to more than 22,000, an increase of more than 2,200, and steps up other immigration enforcement efforts domestically.
“The first, fundamental responsibility of the federal government is to protect our people through a strong national defense and promote homeland security,” Craig said. “Border security and immigration reform are critical components of a secure homeland. This legislation recognizes that and continues with improvements that have made our nation much safer than it was on, and immediately after, September 11, 2001.”
The major homeland security activities in the $31 billion bill include Customs and Border Protection; Immigration and Customs Enforcement; support for state and local anti-terrorism and emergency response programs; and national emergency preparedness.

Significant counter-terrorism measures include airline safety, baggage security, and transit protection initiatives of the Transportation Security Administration; and science and technology research and development of biological, chemical, radiological, and nuclear countermeasures; critical infrastructure protection; and cyber security

The bill now will go before the full Senate Appropriations Committee for approval, and then before the full Senate.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Rewarding Father’s Day

by Senator Larry Craig

This year, June 19 is Father’s Day. Did you know Father’s Day was conceived and first celebrated in the Inland Northwest? The first Father’s Day celebration took place on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington. Sonora Louise Smart got the idea in 1909, while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon in church.

Raised solely by her father, a widower, Sonora Smart wanted to honor the sacrifices and loving influence of her father and all fathers. Over the years, the idea caught on, and finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed legislation establishing permanent, nationwide observance of Father’s Day each year on the third Sunday of June.

While some may overlook holidays like Father’s Day or Mother’s Day, I believe it is important to acknowledge the roles of parents in a child’s life. Beyond the basics of shelter and nurture, much of a child’s personality, outlook on life, and behavior are molded by his or her parents. As always, I plan to visit with my parents on this day, and let them know how much I appreciate everything they did for me as I grew up, and the lessons I learned from them.

As you visit with your families on this holiday, I want to encourage you to consider the hundreds of thousands of children in the United States, or the millions of children worldwide, who are currently in need of a family like the ones we so often take for granted. For a lot of us, it is inconceivable that this basic need is out of reach for the most vulnerable of our population. Please consider these young ones still waiting for their forever families.

Your ability to help may be greater than you think. While many children are in need of a permanent placement with a family, some might only need a temporary loving home to provide safety and stability for a few months.

Adoption is a very real option, whether you already have started a family, or are seeking to start one. If you have given adoption some real thought, but don’t know where to get started, you might want to check out the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s website, www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov. Clicking on the links to “Children” and “Adoption” will take you to a host of resources on adoption and foster care, including contact information for your area, links to agencies and frequently asked questions.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are days when we acknowledge the positive influence of our parents on our lives. We understand how our parents shaped what we became as adults. However, there are children in Idaho, across the nation, and around the world, who need that same sort of positive influence today just as much as you did all those years ago.

It’s not just the child who will benefit. As an adoptive father, I can tell you that the experience will change your life for the better, and I think other adoptive and foster parents will agree with me.

William Jackson Smart, Sonora’s father, loved his children and did his best to raise them well. Through his responsibility and devotion to them, he inspired them. He didn’t do it for the praise or the attention, and I’m sure he didn’t think he deserved a holiday for it. He was just being a dad.

This Father’s Day, as we celebrate dads, please take a look at the Health and Welfare website I mentioned above, and give some thought to becoming an adoptive parent or foster parent. A caring adult can make a positive, lasting difference in the life of a child. Your parents did it for you. Thank them by passing these gifts on to another generation.

CRAIG REACTS TO SALMON DECISION

Will result in higher electricity rates, economic burden

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig expressed disappointment today with U.S. District Judge James Redden’s decision to increase the spill of water over eight dams on the lower Snake River and Columbia River, in an effort to boost salmon recovery. Water spilled over the dams does not pass through the turbine system, and therefore cannot generate electricity.
“Judge Redden’s decision will result in higher electricity prices and place an unjustified burden on the shoulders of ratepayers in the Northwest and the BPA,” Craig said. “Whether the increased amount of water spilled over will help boost salmon survival rates is inconclusive at best. The people of the Pacific Northwest deserve to have policy built on sound science, not speculation.

“At the same time,” Craig continued, “I am pleased that Judge Redden rejected the plaintiffs’ request to increase the flow rate of the river, which would have required devastating drawdowns from Idaho reservoirs in a time of extended drought.”

Friday, June 10, 2005

IDAHO WATER PROJECTS RECEIVE SENATE SUPPORT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Appropriations Committee approved four water projects for Idaho during its consideration today of the Fiscal Year 2006 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. The projects, listed below, are all ongoing and are part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget:

  • City of Castleford Water Infrastructure Improvements ($400,000) – Provides continued federal support to bring the water system into compliance with new arsenic standards for drinking water. Because of the small size and low income of Castleford, the burden cannot be borne by the residents alone.
  • Valley County South Lake Wastewater Collection and Treatment Facility ($600,000) – Will construct a wastewater collection and treatment facility for the residents south of Lake Cascade, including the City of Cascade, the South Lake Recreational Water and Sewer District, and other subdivisions and areas lying south of Lake Cascade. The facility will clean up the lake, as well as provide economic stimulus to the area.
  • Rathdrum Prairie/Spokane Valley Aquifer Study ($500,000) – Completes the federal share of a water quantity study of the sole source aquifer for 400,000 people.
  • Auger Falls Wastewater Treatment Project ($500,000) – Begins construction on a natural treatment system for the City of Twin Falls wastewater. The 545-acre property known as Auger Falls will be the treatment site, resulting in additional wildlife upland, forest, and wetland habitats for wildlife, and reduce phosphorous discharges into the Snake River.

Senator Craig, a member of the Committee, praised the projects, “Each of these projects represents a fiscally responsible partnering between the federal government and Idahoans to deliver clean water to our residents and ensure it is clean when it returns to the environment.”

SENATORS SEEK TO MEND, NOT END, PATRIOT ACT

Durbin and Craig Call on Congress to Make America Safe and Free by Reauthorizing the PATRIOT Act with SAFE Act Revisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., chief sponsors of the Security and Freedom Enhancement Act (SAFE Act), issued the following statement today:

We voted for the PATRIOT Act and agree with President Bush that it should be reauthorized. But we must strike a careful balance -- improving our nation’s security while also protecting individual Americans’ liberties.

Congress should revise the PATRIOT Act to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens while preserving the powers law enforcement needs to fight terrorism. The Craig-Durbin Security and Freedom Enhancement (SAFE) Act would accomplish this goal. It is a narrowly-tailored bipartisan bill that would revise several provisions of the PATRIOT Act. The SAFE Act would not repeal a single provision of the PATRIOT Act. It would retain all of the additional authorities created by the PATRIOT Act but place important limits on these authorities.

We are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but we have come together to safeguard the civil liberties that every American values.

We want to mend the PATRIOT Act, not end it.

The great challenge of our age is combating terrorism while remaining true to our Constitution. The SAFE Act will help us to meet that challenge.

More information is available on Senator Craig’s website in his Securing Freedom Issue Brief.

HART REJOINS CRAIG STAFF

Will Hart to serve as Regional Director in Boise

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig announced that Will Hart has rejoined his staff to serve as his Regional Director for southwest Idaho. Hart started in the position on May 31, 2005.

Hart most recently served as the Communications Director for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. However, his history with Senator Craig stems back to the summer of 1993, when he was an intern in Craig’s D.C. office. Later he served as a Field Representative for Craig for Senate in 1996, as his Press Secretary from 1998-2000, and as his Senior Communications Manager from 2002-2004. Hart also served as Communications Director for Congressman C.L. "Butch" Otter during Otter’s first term.

While he was raised in Alaska and Bellevue, Washington, Hart returned to his Idaho roots to attend the University of Idaho, where he earned a B.A. in History. He then worked as a Sales Representative in Idaho for Walls Clothing and as the Campaign Manager for Ron Crane for State Treasurer.

"It is great to be back home in Boise working for my political mentor Senator Larry Craig," Hart said. "I am very excited to get out on the ground in southwest Idaho representing Senator Craig and begin tackling the many challenges facing our growing region."

Craig’s Boise office serves Idahoans in Adams, Valley, Payette, Canyon, Ada, Boise, Owyhee, Washington, Gem, and Elmore counties.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

IDAHO CONSERVATION PROJECTS RECEIVE SUPPORT

Several Idaho projects included in Interior Appropriations bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Several projects for Idaho were supported today by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies when it approved its Fiscal Year 2006 appropriations bill.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig, a member of the Subcommittee, participated in today’s mark-up of the bill and expressed his pleasure with the support of Idaho projects he requested, “Today the Subcommittee recognized the importance of each of these projects and their significance to Idaho and the nation. Each one helps us conserve our environment and resources while allowing us to wisely use the resources we have.”

The following projects are included in the bill:

  • Idaho’s Strategic Plan for Managing Noxious Weeds $1 million
  • Northern Rocky Mountain/Central Idaho Wolf Recovery $1.5 million
  • Idaho Sage Grouse Management Plan $500,000
  • BSU research on shallow subsurface fluid flow $1.5 million
  • St. Joe Basin/Mica Creek forest conservation $3 million
  • U of I Collaborative Working Forests $500,000
  • Fire Research and Management Exchange System $350,000
  • California Condor Recovery (Peregrine Fund) $400,000
  • Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness conservation $1 million
  • Upper/South Fork Snake River conservation $3 million
  • Singleton-Kilgore forest conservation $650,000
  • Spokane River Bi-State phosphorus study $250,000
Craig commented on the fact that this year’s bill is $760 million smaller than last year’s, “I’m also pleased that this fiscally responsible bill holds the line on spending. Current budget deficits plus our increased needs for homeland security and the war on terror mean the rest of the government has to tighten its belt.”

The House approved its FY2006 Interior and Related Agencies bill on May 19, 2005. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

Friday, June 03, 2005

A Billion Here, a Billion There

by Senator Larry Craig

Over the past year or two, I’ve heard a number of Democrats in Congress make the claim that they, not the Republican Party, are the party of fiscal responsibility. This has always struck me as a strange thing for congressional Democrats to say. But let’s take a look at the numbers, to see if these claims are true.

Earlier this month, the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) released its annual BillTally study for 2003 and 2004, the 108th Congress. The study finds “Senate Democrats advocated an average net annual spending hike of $157.6 billion”. The average House Democrat, not to be outdone, called for $521 billion in increases. In contrast, House and Senate Republicans, on average, called for $35 billion and $33.7 billion in spending increases, respectively.

I know what you’re thinking: Republicans spend less, but they’re still spending too much. I couldn’t agree more, which is why I’ve worked hard as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to hold the line on federal spending.

In fact, when the same group, NTUF, analyzed all the legislation I sponsored or cosponsored in the 108th Congress, they found that all these bills, had they become law, would have resulted in a net reduction in spending of $25 billion. A senator who served well before my time in the Senate was rumored to have said “A billion here, a billion there and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money!”

To nearly all Idahoans, $25 billion is a lot of money. I continue to be appalled by the ho-hum attitude many federal bureaucrats and many here in Congress seem to have about the taxpayers’ money. American families understand that they shouldn’t spend more than they earn. They must live within their means, and so should the federal government.

Economists in business and academics widely agree that persistent federal budget deficits and deficit spending harm the U.S. economy. In a March 16 report, the Heritage Foundation affirms “…the preponderance of research certainly suggests that economic growth will be higher if government spending is lower.”

Certainly, in times of war, deficit spending may be necessary to provide our men and women in uniform with all the training, supplies and equipment they need to be successful. However, times of deficit spending ought to be the exception, not the rule.

After four years of balanced budgets, an economic recession and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, brought back federal deficits. While the economy is growing again, the war on terrorism continues, and budget deficits have returned. And despite all their chest-thumping and self-promotion, congressional Democrats continue to propose ever more spending.

If I owed someone money, it would be irresponsible for me to spend my savings on a new car stereo or a nice television set. I would be obligated to pay off my debts, not find new ways to go further into debt. That is a good deal of what it means to be fiscally responsible.

Some might propose raising taxes to erase budget deficits. However, history has shown that the only thing that is worse for the economy than budget deficits and deficit spending is raising taxes. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, points out the emptiness of this reasoning: “No one has ever raised taxes and solved the problem, nor will we solve the problem. We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem.”

As long as I remain Idaho’s Senator, I will continue to fight the tendency of the federal government to overspend. Check the facts: numbers don’t lie.